Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

This lemon poppyseed cake is made up of fluffy lemon sponge layers studded with poppyseeds and then frosted with a glorious lemon cream cheese frosting!

I wanted to bake a cake. I also want it to be warm outside. So I basically baked spring. I promise it tastes like spring! …I guess something like rose or lavender would taste more like spring but a lemon poppyseed cake will do for now. 

Also, I used my mom’s basic sponge cake recipe (if you don’t know my mom, she’s a fabulous baker:) & added lemon and poppy seeds to it. It turned out wonderful, except it’s not that easy to make. I mean it’s not hard but most people I know haven’t really experienced working with sponge cakes.

How to make lemon poppyseed cake

Like I said, the cake is made up of three layers of sponge cake. The cakes get soaked in a simple syrup (since there’s no fat in the ingredients the cakes become “spongey” so they need a little soak). The frosting is a simple cream cheese frosting flavored with a lemon bit of lemons!

Sponge cakes are much less sturdy than butter/oil cakes; you definitely can’t stack them as tall. You also want to make sure you refrigerate it before decorating because that’s the mistake I always make. I’m too eager to frost. I don’t refrigerate it enough and then it gets all soft and slouchy… but not today! 

What you’ll need:

  • Eggs – eggs are the base of sponge cake recipes; use large eggs
  • Sugar – I used granulated sugar, don’t cut the sugar in the sponge
  • Flour – I use all-purpose flour, make sure to spoon and level it correctly
  • Lemons – use the lemon juice and zest for extra flavor!
  • Poppyseeds – well, this is obvious, no?

How to store lemon poppyseed cake

Sponge cakes are very soft compared to butter cakes and cream cheese frosting is all so softer than classic buttercream so make sure to keep your cake refrigerated. Cover any cut slices with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 7-10 days for freeze for 2-3 months. If freezing, place the airtight container in another freezer bag and squeeze out all the excess air.

If you love lemon poppyseed as much as I do, check out this lemon poppyseed cheesecake or these lemon poppyseed muffins too! Let me know if you make this cake and how it turns out. Make sure to tag me @baranbakery or #bakewithb so I can see it too!

Love, B

Yield: One 8" Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

slice of lemon poppyseed cake with a flower

The perfect spring cake featuring 3 lemon poppy seed sponge cake layers and a cream cheese icing!

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes


Simple Syrup

  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 large lemon, juice

Sponge Cak

  • 12 large eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 oz cream cheese (2 blocks)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 4 cup powdered sugar, spooned and leveled


Simple Syrup

  1. Before starting on the cake, boil together the water and sugar to make the syrup. Remove it from the heat, mix in the lemon juice, and let it cool while baking the cake.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) and grease three 8″ pans.

Sponge Cake

  1. To make the cake, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed in a stand mixer until it reaches the top of the bowl and peaks begin to form.
  2. Reduce to medium speed, add in the sugar, and beat until it is well combined. Add in the egg yolks and beat until they are fully incorporated.
  3. Reduce to low-medium speed and add in the flour, 1-2 Tbsp at a time. Add in the lemon juice, zest, and poppy seeds and beat on high for a few seconds.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and the edges peel away from the pan. If you poke it, it should spring back. Remove from the pans and allow them to cool completely.


  1. For the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese until it becomes pale and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Whip the icing for at least 5 minutes, allowing the sugar to fully dissolve.


  1. Once the cake has cooled, place the first layer of sponge upside down on a cake board/stand. Use 1/3 of the simple syrup to soak the cake with a spoon/brush/squeeze bottle. Allow it to soak in completely and then spread 1/4 of your icing on top. Repeat this step for the next two layers.
  2. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before icing the outside of the cake.
  3. Finish decorating the cake and enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 598Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 235mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 1gSugar: 73gProtein: 10g

Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.

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